Monday, August 29, 2016

Actual work

Aside from our dramaz, mi papi and I have actually gotten some work done.  And it's pretty cool!

Since we made the grand leap to First level, our trot lengthenings have been getting some more attention.  They're currently kind of . . . pathetic.  There's enough of a difference for a judge to give us a reasonable score (6 or 6.5), but they certainly aren't the highlight of the test.  We usually get a couple steps that are longer, but we also get rhythm problems and sometimes some bracing against the hand.  We're typical newbies at First, trying to figure out how to have more than one trot as well as steer and remember where the letters are.  Screw you, L.

I've taught one horse to lengthen in trot, but with Fi, that was practically cheating.  She desperately wanted to lengthen, bringing her back was hard.  Allen already had his lengthen installed.  Theo is clueless.  He genuinely seems confused by the idea of stretching and reaching.  Leg = go faster, right?  So Trainer A has her work cut out for her.  Since mi papi is ridiculously stubborn once he thinks he's learned something, we are forbidden from practicing our lengthens right now without supervision.  I'm not the best about holding the rhythm while trying to get his lazy ass to move on and she doesn't want to have to remove any bad habits.

Our lengthening practice, which is very deliberately designed to start the process of installing a medium for our move to Second, is to set up trot poles along about half of the diagonal across the ring.  The first steps are working trot length.  Then the poles spread out, requiring him to reach and lift to make it.  I do my best to maintain for a couple steps after the poles, then bring him back to working.  It is a massively huge help since I don't have to worry about asking him to lengthen.  The poles do that.  I worry about giving the cue to start, not letting him brace, keeping the rhythm, and not falling off.

It's operant conditioning at it's best.  Theo gets a cue from me at the same time that he moves from working poles to lenghtened poles.  We do this over and over and over.  The idea is that when I turn across the diagonal and give the cue, he will lengthen correctly because he knows what I want without chasing or stress.  And it's working!  It's not stable or confirmed yet, but he definitely has an association started. 

The not falling off part is very difficult, though, since I'm doing this in sitting trot.  Turns out I just can't communicate clearly enough to get this in rising trot.  This is becoming an increasingly common issue as we move up.  We're also working on my reins 'whispering' to my horse.  Instead of my elbows or my hands, my ring fingers are what's talking to Theo.  Sitting down gives me my seat bones to adjust the trot as well as reducing noise overall.  As half pass at the trot becomes part of our routine, sitting trot has become a daily event.  I spend probably 10 minutes of every ride sitting, more in lessons.  So when we started introducing the lengthen and quickly realized I can't cue it without sitting, I skipped the rising trot bit and went straight to sitting the exercise.

The cue is double touch with the spur while 'laying back'.  Which is what Trainer A has to say to me to get me to get behind the vertical in sitting trot.  She showed me video of myself and I'm just barely behind the vertical when we do it, but it gets my hips in front of my shoulders and my pelvis going forward which is what he needs.  The duct tape analogy is back in full force.  I feel like my head is on my horse's tail.  I showed her this cartoon, and she said 'yes, that is exactly what I want you to feel like'.  Ugh.

And it's worse because mi papi can actually do this.  Neither of us expected him to catch on so easily.  I count my rhythm out loud, grab on to my saddle pad with one hand, get back, and pray because when he does a proper lengthen, it's like he's on springs.  He is actually capable of reaching through his shoulder and is now strong enough to truly sit and push for that moment of suspension.  Who knew?  And a true lengthen is so weird to ride!  There's more up, not just more forward!  I never really realized that until I felt his butt drop (in a good way this time) as he lifted himself so he could make it through the trot poles.  Sitting that trot is really very hard.  All that extra lift just wants to toss you out of the saddle.

I did it exactly once.  ONCE.  I happened to nail the approach, have my body where it belonged, and Theo lofted his way through the poles while I stayed in the saddle.  You know when they say you feel like you're suctioned on to the saddle?  It was exactly that.  I just stayed in the saddle even though I knew I should have been tossed up into the air.  Trainer A threw her hands in the air and declared the lesson over.  I sat what will probably be Theo's medium.  I have no damn idea how I did it, but it's a feeling of relief to know that I can physically do it.  It's going to take a long time to make it consistent, but I know it's possible.

All of this is super hard for Theo right now.  That's the other reason it's a strictly lessons exercise.  Mi papi is a serious princess and if he's muscle sore, he lets you know.  One too many reps of turn on the haunches had me doing major body work on him for days.  On the plus side, I always know when something's bothering him.  He doesn't let stuff fester.  It's also letting me get good at doing assisted stretching and muscle work.

I'm starting to think mi papi is playing me for extra massages . . .

But I'll forgive that in exchange for knowing, having evidence, that there's a real, honest to goodness, might even get a 7 one day medium in there.  Second level, here we come!  Very slowly.  And not in a straight line.  But we are definitely en route.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Theo's favorite day

Following along in the thread of making Theo a happy, productive member of society again, I decided he needed a day that was all about him. 

Well, not completely about him.  I'm not going to throw a bale of hay and a 50 pound bag of sweet feed into his field, followed by choice mares and a note saying he never has to work again.  I have to keep it realistic.  He still has to do some work, but I can make it the kind of work he likes.

First he got a very thorough curry comb session, followed by a complete tail brush out.  He's a weird horse and genuinely enjoys having his tail brushed.  By the time I was done, he was gleaming and dozing.  Next came the jumping tack, since he still seems to prefer that jumping saddle.

Our work out of the  today?  A walk up Walnut Hill.  The bugs have finally subsided, the heavy deer fly season is over, and walking trail rides are now an option.  We walked all the way to the top.  The great part about hill work is that I was able to get him puffing without any nagging or requests from me.  I just sit on top and try to keep him from falling on his face while navigating granite rock faces.  By the time we were done, he was a sweaty but content beast.  We walked back to the barn on the buckle with his ears pricked.

After a nice, cold shower, he got a massage with lots of liniment.  While I was working on his hips, digging in with my elbow in the way that makes him shut his eyes and quiver his lower lip, the guy feeding dinner asked if Theo would like his dinner during his massage.

I'm pretty sure it was Theo's idea of heaven.  He had his face buried in a bucket of grain while I worked his glutes after having a nice (if steep and sweat inducing) walk in the woods.  And then he got to go outside in full fly armor to chase his roommate away from the hay.  It really doesn't get any better than that.

Today I have a property owners association meeting, so he gets a break.  These cupcakes aren't going to frost themselves and I need some extra time since I've never made paleo-friendly cupcakes before.  Not quite sure how that's going to turn out.  The golden cupcakes with mocha buttercream, on the other hand, I know how to rock.  Tomorrow I can take him out for another trail ride, this time on the flat, and get those hoses cleared. 

I just found chocolate batter on my keyboard.  That's going to be a problem.  Word to the wise, don't have your laptop near your stand mixer.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Kiss and make up

So with some time and consideration (the blog has a title for a reason), I went to visit Theo with a battle plan to handle our negative last ride.  We've worked too long and too hard to screw our relationship up now.  And let's be clear, it was bad.  Like a bruise on my leg from hitting the thigh block bad.  Small children fleeing the ring in fear bad.  I kind of wanted to flee and I'm not easy to scare.  I got a good, hard look at the dirt and didn't much enjoy the view.  I have a lot of vested interest in avoiding doing that again for as long as possible (because we all know the storm will return some day).

So here was my plan to make ammends with papi:

1.  Ground work.  Someone got his pony roommate back, and getting a roommate is strongly correlated with a spike in studish behavior.  Mi papi is a bit of a bully.

Remember this bit of adorable?

I'm not a big fan of him dragging me or thinking he can push me.  So from the time I got him from his field till the time he went back out, it was bridle or chain shank and I carried a whip.  It took very few reminders to snap him back to giving me complete respect on the ground and stepping out of my space.  I guess the other people that handle him haven't been telling him to mind his manners and I've been letting him slide a bit.  Bad habit with a horse that thinks he's a stud.

2.  Go forward.  As I learned through the winter, Theo tends to get short and stomp when he's got too much energy.  He tends to get negative when he's not had enough work.  It's weird.  Most horses come out hot and forward with excessive energy.  Theo reverts to his 'in need of therapy sessions about anger issues' state.  He's been in light work due to real life eating my time and my strange, deluded impression that he needed some down time after being back in full work for a grand total of three weeks.  It never processed that I was looking at the same winter Theo problem, but in summer.  He'd been short and a bit sullen in both of my lessons and I never broke through that wall of resistance.  Time to get the forward back.  Go forward, go forward, go forward.  Screw balance, screw frame, screw collection.  Screw the entire training pyramid.  Which sounds kind of dirty.  Hm.

Just go forward, big man, and burn off some energy.  By the end of the ride, I finally got to feel his back swinging and his frame stretch for the first time all week. 

3.  Bring the cookies and love.  Because I have the frontal lobes, I'm in charge of driving the relationship.  This includes setting the overall tone.  It got away from me and the results were . . . less than ideal.  I still have my opinions on his behavior (completely out of line), but it's my job to basically pretend it never happened.  I can't rant and rave about him being a jerk.  He's a horse.  He wants food and rest and water and company.  He and I had a dominance dispute because he was gelded late and thought he should take a shot at being the leader.  I won, it's over, I get to go back to being his benign, trustworthy leader.  It was a bit unnerving to ride him past the skid marks from our previous battle (still there a day later) while not shortening my reins.  But if I don't set the tone, it won't change.

4.  For the love of little green apples, let go of his face.  Long, low, and forward fixes many pony brain flaws.  When caught up in the moment, it's almost impossible to let go of his face.  And there's a reason for that!  I don't want to be bucked off!  If I have control of his head, I can prevent the worst case scenario.  If his head is up, he can't manage the powerful buck it takes to unseat me.  It's so, so hard to take a breath and let go and trust that I can hold it together and that he doesn't actually want to hurt me.  But the cycle won't stop if I have his head cranked the entire time.  I let go, trotted him around the outdoor on the buckle.  And he looked, but we didn't escalate.  He genuinely doesn't want to drop me, not unless I've hit the F U button. 

5.  Breathe.  Smile.  Tell him he's a good boy.  Competition really does bring out the worst in me.  When doing the run through of First 3, I was right on his case about his leg yields.  The blow up sure didn't help my mood, but figuring out how steep those leg yields are made me more aggressive.  Today I made a point of just chatting with him.  I pet his neck, cooed to him a bit, told him how smart he was for adjusting his walk based off nothing but my seat.  He really does love to hear me talk to him.  And you know what?  My leg yields were just fine.  So what if we didn't quite make X?  The judges will be happier to have a willing, calm leg yield that's a hair short when the other option is my rage machine making an appearance.

And yes, the battle plan worked.  We had a lovely, normal ride.  It took a good twenty minutes to get him to realize there would be no repeat or hard questions.  By forty minutes, I had my over tracking, happily chewing pony back.

And who's fault is it that we had a blow up?  Mine.  I haven't worked him enough.  I have cracked down on myself that I need to be at the barn six days a week.  Do I need to school six days a week?  Hell no.  Trail rides and spa days count.  But mi papi needs to see me on a regular schedule, even if it's a hit and run. I have to shift to the idea that he's now a well trained, fit horse.  He's not a school horse that I can leave in a field when I'm not quite feeling it.  Two days off?  Might want to plan on lunging him in the future, even in the dog days of summer.  If I'm going to spend that much time teaching him how to sit, I might want to take all possible steps to avoid him showing me just how strong his haunches are.

Fortunately, he's a forgiving soul.  He'll let me slide on this one.

Friday, August 26, 2016

My storm

Things look different depending on how close to them you are.

From a distance, a storm is a dark, powerful, beautiful thing.  It doesn't seem like a bad thing when it's all the way over there. 

But when you're in the thick of it, you feel a bit different about it.  When that's your reality, you notice other things.  Like the risk involved and the fact that there is no off switch.  You just have to wait it out and try to avoid damage.

And then there's Theo.  He's dark, powerful, beautiful.  From a distance, that's what people see and fall in love with.  I've been asked if he's for sale while out with him.  This is usually from trainers looking for an ammy friendly ride while he's dozing in the warm up ring or rifling a steward's pockets after standing like a statue for tack check.  Fun fact, we've practiced taking his ear net off enough that when I reach forward to grab it at a show, he lifts his head so I can reach.

I mean, who wouldn't fall in love with this horse?

He's also capable of being a rampaging dick and likes to give me little reminders that he could, at any moment, decide he's done playing.  About once a week, I get a glimpse.  A curl, hump of the back, tense ears, a buck or offer to rear.  My relationship with mi papi has always had that little edge of trying to keep a lid on things. Unlike my TB partners that would blow up due to excessive energy or over reacting, Theo gets pissed.  And when he blows, it's not pretty.

Being dumb stubborn suicidal experienced, these generally don't even register with me.  I note the dropping barometric pressure, adjust, and we move on like nothing happened.  Half of the time, even Trainer A doesn't notice it.  We've worked together long enough that I can smooth the edges, hand him a cookie, and not miss a beat. 

But storms are a force of nature and, in the end, you can't stop them.  It's what they are.  You plan and take precautions, but that doesn't mean they'll never strike.  Theo will always be mi papi, and that's not always a good thing.

Theo gave me a totally awful ride yesterday.  We were outside so we could use the large arena to work out the First 3 trot pattern.  As I'm walking around the outside to warm up, we both hear something in the woods.  Theo stops and pops his head up.  I'm looking with him, but never see anything.  Probably a fat squirrel.  I wait until it's quiet, then shrug it off.  I put my leg on and he walks by with some looking, but whatever.  He gets a pat.  This is all completely normal.  I start trotting.  At that same spot, he stops dead.  I nudge him to step up and he says NOPE.  Which is ridiculous, we work in this arena all the time and squirrels are nothing new.  I said go on, he started going sideways and swinging his butt.  I put my spur on and that jerk decided that he was going to curl and fly backwards, followed by a lift and turn on the haunches I wish I could get when I wanted it.  When I booted him, he started to go up.  I smacked him on the neck, my standard response to going up, followed by a verbal correction.  Usually he gives at this point, verbal corrections are very effective with him, but instead I felt his butt drop. 

Oh shit.  We just went to the place I don't want to go.

Now Theo wants to fight.  Now I have to make sure I don't let him face home because I'm in a loose ring snaffle and there's no way in hell I can stop him from bolting home.  He's already using all of that lovely new flexibility against me and trying to spin.  I pop him on the shoulder with my whip to stop the spin and he kicks out.  It got bad enough that a clueless mother watching her equally clueless daughter ride called for her daughter to get out of the ring.

And my temper started snapping.  This was ridiculous and I was not going to be hauled back to the barn by his bolting ass.  It would have been easier to get off and throw him, but I forced him to walk by it in a shoulder in so he couldn't look at it.  Fine.  I won.  But now what?  He was stomping his feet more than trotting and diving out his shoulder rather than cantering.  I was ticked about the whole thing and guarding against another blow up.

I forced myself to let go of the reins and give him a cookie.  He kind of glared at me, then took it.  He crunched away and I took some deep breaths.  I picked my reins back up and we went back to work.  It was still tense and tight, but at least we weren't actively plotting each other's deaths.  I did the bare minimum for the day and got off. 

Why thank you, papi, for reminding me that you are not, in fact, bluffing.  Yikes.

And we stood there, sort of glaring at each other, until I gave in and started scritching along his crest.  You know he's angry when he looks at a treat before he takes it, but by the third treat, the eyes were going soft again.  After his bath, I let him loose in his field.  I needed to move his hay back to where he could get it, so he followed me as I walked down the hill.  I gave him a little push and jumped away.  He snorted and came back.  I pushed him and took off.  That was enough for him and with a mighty head toss he chased me the rest of the way down the field.  Even the best of friends have fights sometimes.

Controlling a storm is not an easy feat.  It's not for the faint of heart.  I adore him, but I do need these little reminders to take his threats seriously.  He's not bluffing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On your mark, get set . . .

Not quite time to go yet, but it's definitely time to get set.

With a horse like Theo, it's a bit of a balancing act to get him ready.  It's a very small window between feeling good and telling me to get the hell away from him.  He's not a horse that drills well, but he'll also lose fitness at the drop of a hat.  He's gained weight after the ridiculous heat that kept us at the walk for days.  He needs to be in full week, but I need to carefully balance his mental state so when we arrive in New York, he's physically and mentally ready to roll.  

At this point, strength and fitness are pretty much where they're going to be.  We've got some ground to make up with the heat abating, but it's too late to pack on much more muscle.  Now it's time to just add on some finesse and make damn sure I have the right tests memorized.  I'll never live it down if I get an error on T3. 

Oyster River Dressage Show, August 2016
My gods I'm almost level across my shoulders!

We also have some work to do to get us ready to fumble our way through F1.  Our lengthens are starting to become an actual thing, but it's inconsistent right now.  I do better if I sit the trot, but Theo is still learning that sitting the trot does not automatically mean canter.  Trainer A has been setting up poles to add in some muscle memory.  I bump twice, lean back, and let the poles make sure he properly lengthens.  We've had some lovely passes.  We've also had some passes where he falls on his face and runs, but that's kind of expected right now.  We also have that leg yield pattern that will be rough.  Our change of lead through the trot should be very shiny.  We were jumping on a figure eight yesterday and our changes in both direction are down to about a step of trot.  Clearly not a flying change, but a very prompt simple change.  I'll be focusing on getting an extra step of trot in there so we don't accidentally pull a flying change.

But at the same time, I need to nail down T3.  I haven't ridden that test in months at this point.  I'm less worried about him memorizing stuff now that he is doing so many different tests, so time for a couple run throughs.

I also need to go shopping.  As much as I like my coat, I think I need a formal dressage coat for this outing. 

GMHA, June 2016 with one tired pony
Just now realizing my coat and saddle pad clash 

Charcoal grey hunter coat doesn't seem formal enough for the occasion.  I want something in black with a contrasting collar or piping.  I'll go hit Dover soon, see what they have.  And possibly a new saddle pad.  I love my black pad with crystals, but you can't beat brand new bright white for a show.  Especially on a dark bay.

Speaking of dark bay, he also needs his mane pulled, his tail maintained, and at least one bath with quick black.  The flies have died down so he's out of his fly sheet.  He's fading to a chocolate brown with dapples, which is lovely, but now I have to make sure he doesn't turn orange.  Or get too fuzzy.  He's shedding his summer coat already.  Ugh.

I'm alternating between excitement and shock that this is here already and trepidation.  Less trepidation when I remind myself we're only doing Training level and we'll be just fine.  More trepidation when I think of what a big to-do this show is.  But there's a bar, so we'll be fine.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Coherency and contemplation

Now that I've had a night's sleep, some Advil, and a big coffee, I can write the coherent version of my horse show results.

On the plus side, they moved our forecast back down to 90*.  Better?  It's still the hottest it's been on that day since 2002, but who's counting.  At least it wasn't record shattering heat like originally forecasted.

Fluffy braids are not appropriate for night before braiding, even with a sleazy on.  They just didn't look as nice and I had one braid that looks like Theo got after it.  Not a problem with tight braids, looser braids collapsed.  I guess I'm back to smaller, tighter braids.  Though the effect right after I did them was lovely.


My first test was everything I could want from Theo at a show.  He warmed up nicely.  He went in the ring like a gentleman and ready to work.  Our test was soft, willing, good energy, nicely forward with no nagging.  I worked very hard on not opening my inside rein and riding like I do at home.  It was probably the best test we've done.  70% of my class got a 63.xx score.  The difference between 3rd and 7th was 0.5%, so I'm very pleased with my 6th out of 10 score.  It was a tie and we won out on our cumulative scores.  Got a 7 for impulsion!

It was 90* degrees out for our second test.  Theo was head down sound asleep when I went to get him out for our 2:25pm ride time.  Hottest part of the day.  He was panting a bit just standing there with his tack on before I mounted.  I did a maybe ten minute warm up, just enough that he knew we were going to work.  The humidity was down and we had a nice 10 - 15 mph breeze so he was working comfortably.  Just didn't have the spring of his first test.

I did notice something.  He was far, far more looky once the wind picked up.  Having everything around him in motion mucks with his adorable little brain.  His first test he handled the judge's booths well.  The second test?  He had to go behind one to get to our ring and noticed the back door propped open.  After that, all of the judge's booths were terrifying.  I had to bribe and struggle a bit to get him past the first one and on to his own ring.  He did it for me and was in professional mode down centerline, but there was more tension.  The unused judge's booth along the side was just not okay.  That open back door was facing our ring and he was sure there were aliens in there.

From our UNH show in June, hoping our pictures from yesterday are even better
Good gravy my horse is beautiful
Sit your ass down, Catie

Error was my fault, I panicked and walked at A instead of turning for my second leg yield.  I knew I needed a reader but my pride won out.  I've learned too many tests in quick sequence to avoid errors right now.  No big deal, leg yields were way better than anyone expected.  Most of the time a horse that hasn't done lateral in a show gets confused that the sideways is suddenly in the little white box.  Mi papi took it in stride and gave me very nice steps in both directions.

Our stumbling moment came when I asked him to lengthen canter while going past that judge's booth near B.  He'd been keeping an eye on it the whole test but this time he got a little bump of the spur  while cantering past it which turned concern into 'mom says run!'.  We teleported about six feet off the rail and scooted.  I lost a stirrup, which screwed up my next movement as I tried to get resettled.  I was frantically trying to remember if I'd be penalized for finishing my test without stirrups and decided to pick it up to be safe.  Theo popped right back to work by the time we hit M which was wonderful to feel, but damage done.  We went from all 6 and 6.5 to several 4's and 5's.  Also hit our collectives hard.  Submission 5, rider effectiveness 5.  Ouch.

But that was a move up test and I wasn't expecting anything more than a 60%.  I definitely felt like he belonged there and that he was at the right level.  It just wasn't his day.  We both made mistakes and he was too tired to really power through to the end.  C'est la vie.

I also have to remember that I've moved up.  Stuff that would be seen as minor in Intro or Training tests are deal breakers at First.  They expect your horse to be far enough along to keep it together even when there are probably aliens plotting world domination in the judge's booth.  If I want to play with the big kids, I have to accept that what was good enough is no longer good enough.

I had so many people come up to us and ask about his breeding, his name, just him in general.  He was the picture of soft, willing dressage horse.  He's figured out life is full of cuddles and was trying to be a lap pony with anyone that would come and visit with him.  Several people guessed he was an Oldenburg.  I'm not going to argue with people thinking he's a fancy WB.  One lady was riding her Canadian and pegged him as part Canadian from across the ring.

 Gallery for June show photos

So I brought home lousy ribbons (last in my second test, 6th in my first test), but I left very happy.  No hands July did quiet my hands down considerably and we're starting to see improved impulsion.  He just can't maintain it in the heat yet.  We've got many pounds of muscle to go.  I didn't expect to get to First at all this season, so this is all icing on the cake.  Now it's time to lock down and focus on Saugerties.  One month to get ready.

I think I'm starting to look forward to it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The show process

4am - Alarm goes off.  Pick up phone and stare at in groggy confusion and denial. 

4:15am - Realize coffee was not set up.  Fire machine up because being late is better than being uncaffineated.  The coffee must flow.

4:30am - Drive off into the dark, nursing a large coffee and cursing the concept of horse shows.  Violently.  With creative combinations of terminology.  Most anatomically impossible.

5am - Arrive at barn.  Balance case of bottled water, saddle pad, show clothes, and field boots while walking to the trailer in the dark.  Don't die.

5:30am - Pull out horse and realize he wallowed in pee all night.  Lovely.  Braids still in.  One point horse, one point human.

6am - Load 1 gelding, 2 mares, and way too many adult humans.  Take off through rural New Hampshire.

6:30am - Stop at Dunkin' Donuts.  Have another large coffee.  Start to feel human.

7:15 am - Arrive at showgrounds.  Spend next half hour trying to get adult beginner in her gear and on her horse so she can make her 8am ride time.

7:50am - Flop out with co-pilot and enjoy brief break.

8:10am - Start grooming for copilot.  Tie papi to trailer with haynet so he can tear haynet up with plenty of room.  Rage issues.  He has them.

8:40am - Get copilot up on horse.  Walk across show grounds and immediately walk back.  Realize sneakers are falling apart in middle of mile of walking.

9:30am - Start cleaning old pee off of horse.  Start smelling like old pee.  Ew.

10:10am - Mount Theo.  Head to warm up.  Explain that spectators near bushes aren't assassins lying in wait.  Repeatedly.  Explain that stewards in tent are not aliens there to abduct him.  Repeatedly.

10:40am - Lay down excellent test for 63% in First 1.  Woohoo!  Stuff many cookies in papi. 

11am - Put papi and mares away for naptime.  Find lunch.  Don't eat because it's hot and food is stupid.  Give lunch away.

Noon - Watch freestyle.  Plan things.

1pm - Help copilot get dressed again and back on mare.

1:30pm - Wake up Theo from sound sleep (head down, eyes closed, snoring kind of sleep) so he can be show pony.  Pony not impressed.

2pm - Back to warmup.

2:20pm - Proceed to botch test with error and ride through big spook when papi spots movement in empty judge's booth at the exact same time spurs are applied for a canter lengthen.  Weehaw!  55%, bit harsh, but still good first run for that test and leg yields were on point.  Leave ring oh so pleased and proud of pony.

2:45pm - Wait for scores.

3:15 - Still waiting for scores.  Trailer and other car long gone.

3:30pm - Scores!  Run screaming from the showgrounds.

4:45pm - Return to barn, staggering tired.  Put things away, pull braids, steal a few minutes for sappy baby babble with pony who wants sleepy cuddles before going to bed.  Rub ears until his knees almost buckle in the aisle.

6pm - Arrive home.  Jam random food in face.  Don't remember what.  Collapse on couch with painful leg cramps, maple liqueur, and a dumb smile because your horse packed your ammy butt around at First level and enjoyed doing it.